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bfrances 02-12-2013 12:11 AM

5th Wheel guidance
My husband and I are looking at 5th wheels because we like the more spacious living area and kitchen work area. We've looked at floor plans of many different models and have liked the Big Horns, Montana's and Cameo's. We just don't know what to look for in a 5th wheel as far as construction, roof etc. Some of our must have's are: generator, dual pane windows, washer/dryer.
Presently, we have a class A but like the roominess of a 5th wheel, especially for long term camping. We'd appreciate any comments and guidance on 5th wheels.

dunrovin1955 02-12-2013 05:20 AM

Hi Barb, and first of all we stayed the month of Dec 2012 in your great town on Fort Sam. Very nice park. As for coachs I have been lookin real hard at the Big Horn by Heartland. I dont believe it is the coach a Cameo is but have heard great things about customer service from the factory. Now im sure someone will post something totally different but just my 2 cents worth. Brent

SmokeyWren 02-12-2013 07:55 AM

Keystone Montana has floor plans and models that meet your requirements. For example the Model 3750 FL has options for:
•Dual pane safety glass windows
•Generator ready (Onan 5.5 Kw Specifications) or •Onan Marquis Gold 5.5 kw - LP generator
•Washer/dryer prep
•Low profile ducted 2nd 13,500 BTU A/C (in case you're adventurous enough to spend August in the southwestern desert)

Montana is the best selling big 5er on the market. So a lot of folks have bought one after shopping for that size 5er. You probably can't go wrong with a Montana with the right options.

But you're up into the big bucks if you order a new optioned-up Montana. While looking in that price class you might as well look at the two "luxury" brands in that size 5er. Mobile Suites (DRV Suites) and Excel. They'll cost you more, but you might think it's worth the difference. Owners rave about them. But they ain't cheap.

DRV Suites

5th Wheels - Excel RVs

Caveat: Those big 5ers are heavy. They all require a real truck to tow them without overloading the truck. The Montana 3750FL and most of the other 38' Montanas have GVWR of around 16,000 pounds, so that means a hitch weight of over 3,000 pounds. The Excels and Mobile Suites are even heavier, with GVWR of around 18,000 pounds and hitch weight over 3,200 pounds. So don't consider a tow vehicle with GVWR less than 13,000 pounds and GCWR less than about 26000 pounds. If it's a Ford, that means a minimum of a 2011-up F-350 DRW with diesel engine, and preferably a 2008.5-up F-450.

tuffr2 02-12-2013 10:01 AM

The fact that you want a generator implies you will be boondocking. I wanted a MH but bought a 5er because of what you said. More room and very very nice if parked for awhile. And the really nice 5ers
are much nicer than a MH.

But if I were going to boondock a lot I think I would stick with a MH.

Check out the newest Montana 3900. It is a bath and half.

Anyway - what I would look for.

1. 7,000 lb axels
2. 17.5 wheels and 'H' rated tires
3. At least 12" I-Beam frame. A few builders use even better frames that are boxed.
4. Then the things you mentioned.

5th wheels are insulated much better than MH's so you will like that aspect too.

Like already mentioned you will need a dually to tow safely. Now that is not a bad thing. I love the way my rig goes down the road. Smooth, quiet, lots of power, no rattles, no squeaks, sat. radio playing. I can easily drive 500 miles w/o any fatigue. Actually towed 1,000 miles once but I was tired after that.

hutchman 02-12-2013 03:16 PM

Not to hijack the OP's thread, but this is a question she will have to answer for herself.....

We too are in the shopping mode and have found a 5th wheel that meets all of our requirements including construction except for has a 10" I beam frame. I am wondering if this is a deal breaker or not? It there some definitive engineering that says the 10" frame is insufficient in a 16000# trailer or is the fear unfounded. I realize the obvious that a 12" frame should be stronger than a 10" frame with everything else being equal.....

tuffr2 02-12-2013 05:23 PM

I should have asked how the trailer was going to be used. Since I think they will be boondocking they might be towing over some rough terrain. If I were towing over the rough stuff I think 12" I beam would much better than 10".

On smooth roads and if the dream floor plan came with a 10" frame it would not be a deal breaker.

Also how far and how much towing and how much stuff (weight) would also factor in.

TXiceman 02-12-2013 07:21 PM

Cameo (Carriage) is out of business. They are being built under the name Lifestyle Luxury RV. Cameo and such are not in the same league as the lesser Montana, Cross roads, Big Horn. Lifestyle, DRV and Excel use a rectangular box frame rather than the less rigid and cheaper I-beam frames.

If you are looking fro a true full time, 4-season trailer, you need to be looking at Lifestyle, DRV, Excel, New Horizon, and Nuwa.


twalker409 02-12-2013 08:01 PM

Just purchased Heartland Big Country 3251 ts, with w/d hook up, super insulated, you can order with gen and dual pane, nice layout with movable island

steelpony555 02-12-2013 08:09 PM

If you are looking at Big Horns be sure to check the slide floors if you are looking at used ones. Every used Big Horn I looked at had floor rot. The reason is if you look under them the floor is exposed with no covering other then paint. It is just plywood and even if it is treated the water runs down the sides and wicks into the plywood. If you look at a Montana, it will have a coating of heavy plastic covering the wood. Even though Cameo is an orphan I would still give them a good look if you have the truck to tow one. I think they are better made then the other 2 you mentioned. I have a Montana and even though it is well built for the money there are still things you need to modify. One thing to check is the suspension. If you plan on towing it very far make sure it has either EZ Flex, Equa Flex or a MorRyde suspension with wet bolts. Make sure the tires have been changed from regular ST to either G rated or LT tires. Look for the second AC since you are in TX. Also for a generator you may just want to get a Honda and put it in the truck bed.

caissiel 02-12-2013 09:29 PM

Also any unit over 14k should be have 7k axles with G rated tires. I see to many with 6k axles and realty heavy pin weight. Making then loaded at the axles and on the truck needing a dually.

bfrances 02-13-2013 12:48 AM

5th wheel guidance
Actually, we're not planning any off the road camping. We prefer to stay in RV parks. It's just good to have a generator to fall back on if needed.

SmokeyWren 02-13-2013 09:13 AM


Originally Posted by bfrances (Post 1461962)
Actually, we're not planning any off the road camping. We prefer to stay in RV parks. It's just good to have a generator to fall back on if needed.

We almost always stayed in RV parks with full hookups. But we also spent three weekends a year at Texas Motor Speedway where the affordable camping areas didn't have any hookups. So we hauled two generators: A 5,000-watt Honda "normal" gas generator for use when we needed to have AC, plus a Honda EU2000i small quiet inverter generator for use when AC wasn't needed. The big Honda would use about 5 gallons of gas overnight, while the little one would use only a bit over one gallon.

At home, we have a 500-gallon propane tank from which we can refill our RV propane tanks for about $3.50 per gallon. But I still wouldn't want a propane-fired generator because having an RV park or Propane dealer refill the tanks while on the road usually costs about $8 to $10 per gallon. And it's easy to run out of propane after a couple of days parked without hookups in the summertime if you don't haul a few extra bottles of propane with you. Gas stations are easy to find - even in the boonies - but a source of propane is not usually handy when RVing out in the sticks. So if you buy a 5er that has a built-in propane-fired generator, don't plan to spend a week n the summertime parked in an area where you need the AC but don't have hookups.

Half Dimes 02-13-2013 09:40 AM

Our current rig is our third one. By the time we bought it in '08 we pretty much knew what we wanted in a rig. We selected a NuWa HitchHiker based on recommendations of others. We wanted a built-in generator for the convenience. We don't do a lot of boondocking but like being able to press a button to get it running for a quick lunch. It is propane powered but when it only runs for about an hour at a time and the rig has two 40 lb tanks, refilling isn't a big issue. We have the Big Foot leveling system, 7k axles and upgraded to 17.5" load range H tires.

If we were to buy again, which is unlikely, about all we would change would be to get upgraded suspension, perhaps 8k axles and the MorRyde Independent Suspension system. Also really like the built-in power cord reels.

NuWa, as you may have read, has ceased production as of last month, but will keep open their service, parts, and retail sales of HitchHikers as well as other brands. I think they are keeping open an option to restart production if the economy makes it feasible. We also looked seriously at Excel as an equal when we were looking but bought NuWa based on a floor plan we liked better.

Groovy 02-17-2013 02:25 PM

My understanding, which may be wrong, is that NuWa ceased production for the winter because they didn't have enough orders to keep everyone busy. But they will resume if enough orders come in... they have done that before and it has worked well for them...

So my vote is also for NuWa (Hitchhiker). We love ours, and we got the basic LS model. One thing I liked is that they use Blue Dow foam in their walls. This is a higher density and higher R-factor styrofoam than the regular white stuff used in most trailers. It's tough stuff!!

I like the idea of dual pane windows, too, and that's an option you can get from them. However, I have also heard folks complain that when condensation creeps between the panes you can be stuck with foggy windows for a long time... but that's hearsay (haven't experienced it myself)!!!

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